LAKE ANDES, SD - Mark your calendars for May 20, 21, 22 as a unique event will be coming to the Wagner, Lake Andes and Pickstown area of South Dakota. The Ft. Randall Birding Festival has all the makings of a weekend event that holds something for everyone interested in birds found in or passing through the great lakes region of South Dakota. The area boasts at least 322 species of birds of which 164 are breeding species. Experts also tell us that in May there will still be many migratory birds in the area.
Two National Wildlife Refuges and a South Dakota Wildlife Production Area will be featured with field trips to all three. The area is unique in that these three excellent birding areas are in close proximity to each other. The Lake Andes Refuge borders the 4,616-acre Lake Andes Lake north of the Missouri River and is only 10 miles from the Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge located on the Missouri River. Red Lake is a short jaunt (six miles) south of the Lake Andes Refuge.
Birding is defined as the act of observing or identifying wild birds in their natural environment. It’s an activity the whole family can enjoy together. To add to the birding field trips there will also be optional things to do such as a tour of the Corps of Engineers welcome center and Dam at Pickstown.
The weekend will start out Friday at ( registration) at the Wagner National Guard Armory with an overview of the weekend events. This will be followed by a talk on birds and birding in the Lake Andes/Fort Randall area by David Swanson from the biology department at the University of South Dakota. The evening will be capped off with a program on live raptors presented by personnel from the Black Hills Raptor Center. Four species of raptors will be included in the group of avian ambassadors featured.
Saturday morning birders will meet at the Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge for a guided field trip led by David Swanson. In the afternoon Ricky Olson, one of South Dakota’s top birders, will lead a gull and tern identification field trip and talk. The Red Lake Wildlife Production Area and Ft Randall Dam will be visited. Saturday evening will feature a presentation and talk about bluebirds by David Jeffcoat the SD coordinator of Bluebirds Across Nebraska and South Dakota.
A whip-poor-will walk will also take place for the night owls starting from the city park in Pickstown.
Sunday morning will start at the Karl Mundt National Wildlife Refuge for a field trip guided by
USF&WS personnel. Among other things Bald Eagle viewing and nesting will be featured until when the festival will officially end.
Pre-registration for the festival by May 16th will help with logistics, save money and is highly recommended. To pre-register go to the web site www.cityofwagner.org download the form and send it to the Wagner Chamber of Commerce. You can also request a registration form by calling the Wagner Chamber of Commerce at 605-384-3741.
Sponsors for the weekend events include: The Wagner Chamber of Commerce, the City of Wagner, City of Lake Andes, Town of Pickstown, Randall RC&D, Sioux Falls Bird Club, SD Ornithologists Union, Bluebirds Across NE & SD, Fort Randall Casino, USDA-NRCS, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Great Lakes of SD Tourism, SD Game Fish and Parks, Southeast SD Tourism.
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